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Love Thy Neighbor

Think about this: besides yourself, who do you love the most?

Almost everyone would answer - their spouse and/or their children. If they’re not married, they would usually say it’s the one person whom they have defined as their closest friend.  Isn’t that strange?  They all come before your own parents!!  Your parents have done so much for you throughout your life that they should be the prime target of your love.  But because you have spent your entire life taking from them and not giving to them, your love is not as strong as it is for those to whom you spend your life giving.

Speaking of parents, did it ever strike you as odd that human beings are the only creatures that require months of parental care before they become self sufficient? Most animals can walk, crawl or fly at birth.  They can see and focus.  They can find food and sustain themselves. Only human beings are helpless, unable to communicate or survive without someone else providing care and affection.  Why do you suppose that is?

Perhaps it is to bring out this trait of giving to others which results in the emotional attachment between parent and child that makes the care-giver WANT to continue to give.

The Talmud makes an amazing statement (it makes many).  It states, “More than the baby wants to nurse, the mother wants to nurse the child.”

Everyone has an inborn trait to give.  No matter how deeply ingrained might be the desire to take, the spark of wanting to share a part of one’s life is never extinguished.  (Even the stingiest people invite others to their weddings).  Sharing one’s joy is an act of giving.

As we see, it is the way of the world for people to marry and have children.  Not only to pass on their names and legacy to a future generation, but also to have someone with whom to share life’s experiences.  Those who don’t marry, will usually adopt a dog or a cat.  One reason is for companionship.  But the overriding reason is to have another being to whom they could give and draw closer.

How, then, do we learn to love our neighbors?  By giving.

This can take many forms.  One of the easiest ways to give, especially to total strangers, is by smiling when you greet them. The Talmud (once again), says that showing a person the whites of your teeth when you smile (even if they are bit yellowed), is better than giving them food (and a lot more convenient).  It provides a mutual lift to both the giver and the receiver (try being angry when you’re wearing a smile).

Of course, there are more involved ways of giving to others: visiting the sick, giving charity, paying someone a compliment, lending an ear, lending a hand, lending a lawn mower, shoveling their snow (well maybe not the whole driveway).

In whichever way a person chooses to begin a giving - relationship with another, the closer he will feel towards him and naturally want to continue to give. It’s what they call a win-win situation.

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Comments icon February 16, 2011


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